Reading Glasses At The Ready: 7 Writers & Literary Festivals In 2021

·6-min read

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Among many of the homelier habits that we’ve gotten into over the past year or so (thank you, pandemic), reading probably tops the list. As COVID-19 lingers on, much of our daily routines have turned virtual. And this year, many of the writers’ festivals, conferences, and workshops have remained digital, in part or in whole. So, if your major goal for 2021 is to read more, or even expand on your talents and write more, then this list is for you.

Makassar International Writers Festival 2021

When: 23 to 26 June

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What: Run by Rumata ‘Artspace, the Makassar International Writers Festival is an independent event held since 2011. It’s grown into an annual affair that has a significant impact on the local community of Makassar, South Sulawesi, and Eastern Indonesia.

In 2021, the virtual festival brings together writers, readers, translators, editors, publishers, and community organisations to hear from and interact with from around the world. With a theme of Anthropause, notable speakers from the likes of Sayaka Murata (winner of Japan’s most prestigious literary award, the Akutagawa prize) to Zafigo’s very own Founder Marina Mahathir, will dive into the topics of resilience, survival strategies, and the future.

Where: For more event details and registrations, visit makassarwriters.com

Jaipur Literature Festival 2021

When: 19 to 28 February

What: While it may be too late in the year to attend the discussions live, the Jaipur Literature Festival has transformed itself into one of the world’s most popular online spaces for discussions about books and writing over the pandemic period. That’s right, hosting a living library digitally, that means you can still catch up on panels and discussions by JLF 2021 post fact.

With a stellar list and possibly one of the best festival line-ups ever in the 14 years of the annual Jaipur Literary Festival, the 2021 edition includes Nobel Laureates such as Joseph Stiglitz and Malala Yousafzai, the award-winning author Jonathan Safran Foer, an exclusive session with Bill Gates, Priyanka Chopra, and an array of visually exciting sessions on music, dance, theatre, food, sustainability, and innovation.

Where: To explore available past sessions, visit jaipurliteraturefestival.org

Emerging Writers’ Festival 2021

When: 16 to 26 June

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What: Committed to supporting and showcasing emerging talents despite the challenges and obstacles of the past year, the Emerging Writers Festival went ahead with their scheduling digitally in 2020. With ongoing restrictions, Australia’s premier writers’ festival for emerging artists has decided to stay online for a second year with live streams and pre-recorded sessions.

With 400-odd writers and over 50 events, authors and poets such as Caitlin McGregor, Ruby Hillsmith, Mia Nie, Yamiko Marama, and more will be presenting and discussing topics pertaining to home, place, connection, identity, and of course, writing that shines in a world that’s gone dark.

Where: To check out talks, panels, discussions, workshops, and more, visit emergingwritersfestival.org.au

Singapore Writers Festival 2021

When: 5 to 14 November

What: One of Asia’s premier literary events that started in 1986 as a biennial festival, the Singapore Writers Festival is now organised by Arts House Limited annually. Shining a light on the world’s literary talents and homegrown Southeast Asian talents, the festival is a much anticipated event on the cultural calendar for readers, writers, and poets alike. An exciting meeting of writers, academics, and thinkers in a full spread of panel discussions, workshops, talks, and performances spread across 10 days, the Singapore Writers Festival has hosted literati the likes of two-time Booker Prize winner Margaret Atwood, British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, and Nebula winner Neil Gaiman. For now, details of the 2021 installation are sparse, but be sure to check out the website as more is unveiled.

Where: As the dates loom closer, look out for more information and ticketing details on artshouselimited.sg/festivals-placemaking/swf

Byron Writers Festival 2021

When: 6 to 8 August

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What: While the annual Byron Writers Festival was cancelled last year due to the pandemic, the festival has received federal and emergency funding and will be back to welcoming guests and audiences to festival grounds at Byron Bay in 2021. Expect stimulating conversations, ideas, and shared experiences as literary talents come together to reflect and connect for their 25th anniversary.

Some of the first guests announced include Australian journalist, broadcaster, and author Julia Baird; author, writer, and lawyer Alice Pung; Koori poet and writer Evelyn Araluen; South African Jewish lawyer Hayley Katzen, and more!

Where: For details and all tickets including 3-Day passes, 1-Day passes, Feature Events and Workshops, head to byronwritersfestival.com/festival

George Town Literary Festival 2021

When: 25 to 28 November

What: First established in 2011, the George Town Literary Festival is an international event celebrating world literature, translations, and the literary arts. And it’s held annually right here in George Town, Penang. Initiated by the state government, it’s a mostly free festival with the exception of workshops.

At the virtual festival of 2020, writers, artists, historians, and playwrights the likes of Leila S. Chudori, Victor Chin, Wang Gungwu, and Ann Lee came together to contemplate the role of literature and the arts in a time of crisis with the theme of ‘Through the Looking Glass’. While details of the 2021 festival have not yet been released, we’re sure it will be a real page turner and a wonderful celebration of the arts all around for its 10th anniversary.

Where: Log on to georgetownlitfest.com for more details.

Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2021

When: 8 to 17 October

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What: Perhaps one of the better-known literary events of the region, the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival was conceived in 2004 as a healing project. Evolving over the years with themes and subjects that help shine a special spotlight on current events and emerging writers from the Indonesian archipelago, its latest edition will explore self-reflection, cultural introspection, and human rights.

Examining who we are, what unites and divides us, and what drives our actions, this year’s festival will be presenting panel discussions, exclusive banquets with world writers, workshops, film screenings, music and art performances, and many other activities. Be sure to check out the website to find out more on the speakers, events, and shortlisted candidates.

Where: To learn more about the speakers, programme, and shortlisted emerging writers for 2021, visit: ubudwritersfestival.com

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Sue May
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Sue May

Whiskey drinker. Whimsy finder. Word writer. Sue May is a fan of big words and arcane definitions. Fascinated with stories, this honorary Geordie enjoys stumbling down well-trodden paths, roads less travelled by, and meeting new people. (Sometimes she writes about them.)

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The post Reading Glasses At The Ready: 7 Writers & Literary Festivals In 2021 appeared first on Zafigo.

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